iranian women are being arrested for instagramming without headscarves

The Islamic republic is cracking down on the social media modeling circle, arresting eight women for 'spreading immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity.'

by Hannah Ongley
16 May 2016, 8:43pm

In New York City, women's bodies are censored more on Instagram than they are IRL. In Iran, where the covering of hair in public has been mandatory for women since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, exactly the opposite is true. Highlighting this is a slew of new arrests as officials crack down on women posting photos on Instagram without their headscarves. The eight arrested were among 170 people who have so far been targeted for social media modeling that amounts to "threats to morality and the foundation of family," the Times of Israel reports. This number includes 59 photographers and make-up artists, 58 models, 51 salon managers and fashion designers, and two special institutions. 

Court prosecutor Javad Babaei said on state television on Sunday that modeling agencies are responsible for approximately 20% of Instagram posts from Iran. He claims that the women arrested were responsible for "making and spreading immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity," while many more were investigated before ultimately escaping with only a warning. "The persons who reformed their behavior after receiving a notice did not face any judicial action, and eight out of the 29 have been arrested," he said. Some of the women have been forced to give a public self-criticism. 

"Sterilizing popular cyberspaces is on our agenda," added Mostafa Alizadeh, a spokesman of the Iranian Centre for Surveying and Combating Organized Cyber Crimes. "We carried out this plan in 2013 with Facebook, and now Instagram is the focus." Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are blocked in Iran, while Instagram remains not only accessible but extremely lucrative. The average monthly income for a successful model on the platform is 100 million rials ($3,330), according to a statement given by one woman to Tehran's prosecutor.


Text Hannah Ongley
Photography Faizal Riza Mohd Raf via Flickr